Britain's labour market remained tight in May but wage growth slipped even further behind consumer price inflation, continuing the squeeze on the spending power of UK households.
The Office for National Statistics reported that the unemployment rate in the UK fell to a fresh 43-year low of 4.5% in May suggesting labour market conditions remained tight during the second quarter.
Real earnings continue to fall
Of more concern to monetary policy authorities was continued slack in wage growth as average earnings over three months in May slid to 1.8% from 2.1% in April.
There were some indications, however, that basic pay levels may be seeing some growth as average earnings excluding bonuses rose to 2% from April's 1.8%.
With consumer price inflation (CPI) rising at 2.9%, however, the pressure on household budgets continues to be a chief concern of the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee (MPC).
Mixed signals for hawks
The number of hawks increased at the Bank's last MPC meeting in June to three as Michael Saunders joined Ian McCafferty and the BoE's chief economist Andy Haldane in voting for a quarter-point interest rate increase to 0.5%.
If one further member out of the committee of nine voted for an increase, that would leave Governor Mark Carney with the deciding vote.
As yet, Carney remains among the doves, concerned about the mixed signals posed by the economic strength driving inflation and "anaemic wage growth".
Paul Hollingsworth, UK economist at Capital Economics said: "Despite figures suggesting the economy is close to full employment, the continued weakness of wage growth provides ammunition to the more dovish members of the MPC that now is not the time to raise interest rates."
The doves on the MPC believe that real earnings - annual average wage growth minus CPI - will turn positive over the next few years as falling unemployment provides a boost to wage growth.
Most analysts believed the BoE would be in no hurry to raise rates.
"Hiking borrowing costs at a time of falling real pay and heightened uncertainty regarding the economic and political outlooks would merely introduce another headwind to an already-struggling economy," said Chris Williamson at IHS Markit.
Markets continued to see little chance of a near-term interest rate increase.
The pound eased 0.1% against the dollar to $1.2840, and was flat against the euro at €1.1215.
Equity markets were driven higher by the prospect of continued low rates and the FTSE 100 climbed 0.7% to 7,378.